A Fairytale Like No Other? Penelopes influences are right up front--theres the Tim Burton production design (overstocking each frame with curios) and Amelie music-box wistfulness tinkling all about. The films titular heroine (Christina Ricci) is born into money, but thanks to a hex brought on by a distant ancestors snobbery, is accursed with a sows snout (shes a prettier breed of The Twilight Zones pig people). Director Mark Palansky starts Penelope by whisking us through a The Story Until Now sequence, and doesnt slacken much once the real tale starts in--released fully two years after shooting, the films been trimmed to the quick. This little piggy ventures off her family estate for the first time into a hybrid LondonNew YorkBelle Epoque beyond, to experience life and love (with the impeccably scruffy James McAvoy, ready to front some cruddy sparkle-and-fade NME-championed band). Ricci, though, is appealingly human, and some acknowledgement of the importance of female friendship, in addition to romance, is faintly touching. The social function of fables has long switched from cautionary chiding to coddling self-esteem. Hence the moral here: Self-acceptance brings inner beauty out. Its not quite that easy, but its also not a bad lie to buy.
Mark PalanskyChristina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, Simon Woods, Ronni Ancona, Jason Thornton, Russell BrandLeslie CavenyChristian Arnold-BeutelSummit Entertainment